The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler
A Novel

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Synopsis

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Anne Tyler's The Beginner's Goodbye.

From the inimitable Anne Tyler, a rich and compelling novel about a mismatched marriage—and its consequences, spanning three generations.

They seemed like the perfect couple—young, good-looking, made for each other. The moment Pauline, a stranger to the Polish Eastern Avenue neighborhood of Baltimore (though she lived only twenty minutes away), walked into his mother’s grocery store, Michael was smitten. And in the heat of World War II fervor, they are propelled into a hasty wedding. But they never should have married.

Pauline, impulsive, impractical, tumbles hit-or-miss through life; Michael, plodding, cautious, judgmental, proceeds deliberately. While other young marrieds, equally ignorant at the start, seemed to grow more seasoned, Pauline and Michael remain amateurs. In time their foolish quarrels take their toll. Even when they find themselves, almost thirty years later, loving, instant parents to a little grandson named Pagan, whom they rescue from Haight-Ashbury, they still cannot bridge their deep-rooted differences. Flighty Pauline clings to the notion that the rifts can always be patched. To the unyielding Michael, they become unbearable.

From the sound of the cash register in the old grocery to the counterculture jargon of the sixties, from the miniskirts to the multilayered apparel of later years, Anne Tyler captures the evocative nuances of everyday life during these decades with such telling precision that every page brings smiles of recognition. Throughout, as each of the competing voices bears witness, we are drawn ever more fully into the complex entanglements of family life in this wise, embracing, and deeply perceptive novel.
 

About Anne Tyler

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Anne Tyler was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, in 1941 and grew up in Raleigh, North Carolina. This is her eighteenth novel. Her eleventh, Breathing Lessons, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1988. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
 
Published January 6, 2004 by Ballantine Books. 354 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction, Mystery, Thriller & Suspense, Romance, History, Travel. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for The Amateur Marriage

Kirkus Reviews

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Three children arrive in short order, but it’s not long before Michael is wondering, “Was it possible to dislike your own wife?” They’re simply not good match: “Pauline tumbled through life helter-skelter while Michael proceeded deliberately .

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Publishers Weekly

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Because Tyler writes with scrupulous accuracy about muddled, unglamorous suburbanites, it is easy to underestimate her as a sort of Pyrex realist. Yes, Tyler intuitively understands the middle clas

Dec 22 2003 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

The Guardian

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The Amateur Marriage Anne Tyler 320pp, Chatto, £16.99 Anne Tyler's 17th novel begins on Pearl Harbor Day 1941 and ends 60 years later, after the World Trade Center attack.

Jan 03 2004 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

The Guardian

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The Amateur Marriage by Anne Tyler Chatto £10.99, pp306 Anne Tyler is a great writer and in a great rut.

Jan 25 2004 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

Publishers Weekly

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Lindy runs away in 1960 and never comes back—although in 1968, Pauline and Michael retrieve Pagan, Lindy's three-year-old, from her San Francisco landlady while Lindy detoxes in a rehab community that her parents aren't allowed to enter.

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BC Books

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They are people who have lives outside the family, but people who seem pre-occupied with the familiar and seem rarely to confront ideas or experience outside its apparently defining, but only sometimes reassuring confines.

Oct 05 2008 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

Book Reporter

Anne Tyler's newest novel, THE AMATEUR MARRIAGE, is one of her best.

Jan 20 2011 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

AV Club

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Without ever coming to understand each other, they muddle through their "amateur marriage," with Pauline resenting Michael's oppressive, unimaginative version of domesticity, and Michael resenting Pauline's inexplicable flurries of emotion.

Feb 17 2004 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

Entertainment Weekly

Her words are so carefully chosen, her characters so polished, that the books sometimes take place, jewel-like, in a single day, or -- in the case of ''Breathing Lessons'' -- a single conversation.

Jan 23 2004 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

The Sydney Morning Herald

This is Anne Tyler, after all, and, given her predilection for the complexities beneath even the most benign existences, it is no surprise that The Amateur Marriage charts the increasingly dysfunctional evolution of a marriage and a family.

Mar 13 2004 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

People

But Michael is poisoned by the suspicion that other couples grew "seasoned and comfortable in their roles, until only he and Pauline remained, as inexperienced as ever—the last couple left in the amateurs' parade."

Jan 19 2004 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

London Review of Books

She’s not splendid because she’s special, but because she’s the living embodiment of every poignant story about young love: not just the stories she’s telling herself, but the stories everybody else is telling about her (this first chapter is narrated through the collective awareness of the women...

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Bookmarks Magazine

Charles Matthews Detroit Free Press 2 of 5 Stars "The Amateur Marriage ends up being a less-than-great Tyler novel, however, mostly because it's just so hard to get a handle on Michael.

Oct 27 2009 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

BookRack

In fact for me it helped make it more readable, otherwise it may have been a rather long winded marriage tale!

Feb 21 2012 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

Spirituality & Practice

She notes: "Pauline believed that marriage was an interweaving of two souls, while Michael viewed it as two people traveling side by side but separately."

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John Baker's Blog

Her back had grown as broad and beefy as a truck driver’s, and her hair – a harsh, artificial brown – was the consistency of cotton candy, so puffed up that he could see air through every wisp.

Feb 06 2007 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

Dabbler

The Amateur Marriage works by particularly clever and subtle manipulation of point of view, across a series of vignettes that cover six decades.

Aug 02 2010 | Read Full Review of The Amateur Marriage: A Novel

Reader Rating for The Amateur Marriage
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